The New York Giants are the NFL equivalent of a cartoon character running off a cliff and being suspended in mid-air before the realization comes they're about to fall.
Right now, the Giants' future hangs in the balance with three anvils pulling them down. General manager Dave Gettleman, head coach Joe Judge and quarterback Daniel Jones are all contributing factors to the team's 9-17 record over the last two seasons.
Nothing about the organization signals progress. Nothing shows the Giants are trending in the right direction. The signs followed have led them off the edge and into the ether of abysmal football. At 3-7, another season is lost. Monday's 30-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium served as a microcosm for all of the Giants' ills.
A season ago, excuses could be made. The team moved forward in the COVID era with a new coaching staff, new philosophies and new schemes. Despite a 6-10 record, New York remained competitive in the NFL's worst division and finished one game behind the Washington Football Team as division champions.
A lack of improvement coupled with the inability to keep pace with everyone else in the division signals time for changes. The Dallas Cowboys lead the way with a 7-3 record. The Philadelphia Eagles already have more wins this season (five) than they did a year ago (four). Washington is on a two-game winning streak starting with a victory over the Buccaneers, who thumped New York two weeks later.
The idea of another rebuild won't be palatable for Big Blue supporters, particularly the franchise's ownership group. Sometimes a fresh start is better than the alternative. Based on the Giants' current trajectory, they're going to be stuck in the same cycle of suck its been in for five years. The squad hasn't come close to reaching a .500 record since the start of the 2017 campaign.
Everything starts at the top.
Gettleman has been a disaster since taking over the Giants' roster prior to the 2018 campaign. He's an out-of-touch executive who's made poor decision after poor decision.
New York lacks the difference-makers necessary to compete with better squads. Aside from Saquon Barkley's standout rookie campaign when he captured NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, injuries have hampered the standout ball-carrier—which is exactly why many questioned the thought process behind selecting a running back with the second overall pick.
In 2019, Gettleman didn't want to risk losing Jones and chose him with the sixth overall pick, though he wasn't considered an elite prospect. The front office then used the pick acquired in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade to select Dexter Lawrence, who's been a solid-to-pretty good defender but another piece at a non-premium position. Furthermore, the Giants had a third opening-round selection and chose cornerback DeAndre Baker, who is no longer with the team.
2020 first-round left tackle Andrew Thomas and 2021 first-round wide receiver Kadarius Toney have showed promise early even if they struggled at times.
To fill out the rest of the roster, the Giants spent big in free agency on left tackle Nate Solder, wide receiver Golden Tate, cornerback James Bradberry and wide receiver Kenny Golladay. It's pretty safe to say three of the four have either been outright misses or disappointments. Golladay caught one pass for 12 yards Monday. Apparently, $40 million guaranteed bought the Giants 20 total catches in six games.
Gettleman's mishandling of the roster certainly doesn't help Jones. The quarterback consistently faces pressure from opposing defenses. He becomes rattled and doesn't have the surrounding cast to make up for other deficiencies in the lineup.
As a unit, the Giants haven't scored 30 points in 21 consecutive outings, per SNY's Ralph Vacchiano. This offensive ineptitude continues despite A) playing in an offensive-driven league and B) having a top-10 pick behind center.
New York has a massive decision to make in the coming months.
Jones enters the window to have the fifth-year option on his rookie deal picked up by the team. At this juncture, the choice seems obvious, though it won't be. He hasn't earned the right to be called a franchise quarterback. His penchant for turnovers is alarming. His mindboggling awful throw to Buccaneers' nose tackle Steve McLendon basically sums up the 24-year-old's career to date.
He's already thrown 29 interceptions in 37 career games. In total, he has 49 career turnovers. His play isn't good enough. Excuses can be made all day long about lack of protection, poor skill position performances and anything else, but the quarterback must take better care of the ball.
Simply put, Jones is a turnover machine. His team can't rely on him to consistently move the offense without making mistakes. Eventually, he's going to throw a bad ball into a crowded area or not secure the pigskin while being hit. Those mistakes are part of his DNA as a football player. The idea he's going to drastically change between now and next season or two years down the road is folly.
Only 167 passing yards on 38 attempts is embarrassing, too. Judge doesn't have an answer or so it seems.
"We gotta do a better job scoring points," the head coach told reporters after the game.
The offense is bad enough but Judge's game-management skills came under fire during the popular Manning simulcast. Both former quarterbacks questioned the coach's judgment when trying to move the ball from the Giants' 9-yard line with only 43 seconds left to play in the half.
"What are they doing?"
"Either you're trying to run the clock out or you're trying to score. For some reason, Joe Judge is trying to do both"
"I'm not sure what they're doing."
Situational awareness is a significant part of leading a football team and Judge doesn't show the best judgment in this particular area. At this point, reality seems to be setting in. One significant change has already been made.
"I have faith in all the people on our team," Judge stated when asked about possible changes at offensive coordinator. "We'll assess everything."
Approximately 13 hours later, the dismantling began with Jason Garrett's dismissal, according to The New York Daily News' Pat Leonard. The coordinator can't just serve as a scapegoat, though. The issues within the organization run much deeper than who's calling the offensive plays.
A piecemeal reworking of the organizational hierarchy would be nothing more than a Band-Aid. Either the Giants must commit to a full-on rebuild or continue to be stuck in the same cycle.
A new general manager without a new head coach turns into a prearranged marriage and those tend to end badly. Jones could get another coaching staff and be forced to learn another system while not actually addressing his biggest problem area, which is the turnovers.
An emphasis should be placed on process, vision, alignment, cohesion and synergy until those things are actually achieved. Otherwise, the Giants will continue with their best Wile E. Coyote impression and fail with each new hair-brained scheme to catch the league's pacesetters.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.